North Plains

Northen Plains

When ‘Northern Plains’ is alluded to, one might scratch her/his head. But immediately follow that up with ‘Arenal Volcano’, and ‘ahs’ of recognition will reverberate. The majestic Arenal Volcano near the town of La Fortuna, just over two-and-a-half hours north of San José, is one of Costa Rica’s most famous, and most visited, tourist destination. When the big monster is angry, it will rumble mightily, send streams of lava down the
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sides,blow puffs of volcanic ash into the air, and send sparks spurting in all directions.
The La Fortuna/Lake Arenal area offers excellent hotels from modest to upscale with superb views of the volcano. You can hike to the base, but not get too close. Many hotels feature restful and beneficial hot springs; there are exciting white water rafting, zip line, hanging bridges and cable car tours, as well as tours to hidden waterfalls and the mysterious Venado caves.
Travel a couple of hours south-west of Arenal, and you will reach the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest. Seldom will you encounter such rich shades of green concentrated in one small area, along with an incredibly diverse wildlife population. Much of the history of Monteverde and of the famous biological reserve itself can beattributed to US Quaker families who settled there in the early 1950s.
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The zip line, hanging bridge and walking tours in the cloud forest are incredible, and hotels from modest to upscale dot the fringes of the protected areas.
An almost forgotten area of the Northern Plains is its northernmost point, on the way through vast sugar cane plantations. Originally settled by merchants and fisherfolk who worked on the nearby Río San Juan, the Los Chiles area, along with the Caño Negro Park, is for the adventurous, especially those who might be lured to fish for Tarpon that make their way up the San Juan river.
The area around San Carlos (Ciudad Quesada), Lake Arenal and La Fortuna has also become very popular with the expat community who have bought real estate in Costa Rica. There are all kinds of homes for sale, and many people have made their homes within view of the man-made lake, surrounded by lush green hills and a temperate climate.
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